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ShotPut Pro V3 by Imagine Products, Inc.

COW Library : Panasonic Cameras : Helmut Kobler : ShotPut Pro V3 by Imagine Products, Inc.
CreativeCOW presents ShotPut Pro V3 by Imagine Products, Inc. -- Panasonic HVX - HPX (P2) Review


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ShotPut Pro 3 is a handy utility that safely offloads solid-state media cards -- P2 cards, SxS cards, CompactFlash cards, what have you -- to your Mac or PC. Of course, you don't need Shotput Pro to offload your cards. To do that, just mount the card(s) on your computer, and drag their footage files to a hard drive. But Shotput Pro offers a more secure and refined approach to that standard drag-and-drop method. That's why I use Shotput regularly (since version 2), and recommend the new 3.0 to anyone looking to improve their solid-state workflow. The basics of Shotput are simple. Once you launch the app, just select any mounted cards you want to copy, select the destination volumes they'll copy to (one or multiple drives in case you're making an instant backup), and then click the big Begin button. Shotput responds by moving the files from the card to the destinations, showing you its progress -- file by file -- in a pop-up window.


Shotput Pro Main
Please click above for full size image.



File Verification

One of the essential features of Shotput is that it verifies the files as it copies, making sure that the copied files match the original files on your cards. This is something that neither the Mac nor PC operating systems do as extensively (if at all) during a straight operating system copy. In fact, Shotput lets you choose between light and heavy levels of verification while it copies files. The default setting is called "File Size Comparison", where Shotput confirms that each copied file is the same size as the original file on your card. That verification has a minor impact on copy speed: for instance, I used my Mac's Finder to copy a 64GB P2 card (mounted in a fast PCD-35 reader) to an internal raid on my Mac Pro, and the copy took 10 minutes flat. Copying the same card using Shotput took 11 minutes, 53 seconds, which is a little slower than the Finder copy, but not appreciably.


Shotput Copy Detail
Detail of Shotput Copy


The second, heavy-duty verification that Shotput offers is called "Byte Verification", which literally compares each byte of data to make sure that your copy exactly matches the original card. Compared to the faster "File Size Comparison" approach, this byte-level verification almost doubles the time needed to copy your card, which is why I never use it. Imagine Products tells me that most people use the faster verification as well, but it's good to know that Shotput can accommodate even the most paranoid among us.

Other Conveniences

After your copy finishes, Shotput shows (and can automatically save) a log file listing all the files it worked with, how long each file took to copy, how many bytes were copied, etc. I've never had to look at a log file because my card copies always go smoothly, with no errors. But the logs are there if you ever want to diagnose what particular files may have caused a card copy to go wrong. Again, this is something you don't get with a straight drag-and-drop copy.

Shotput does other things to streamline your card-copying workflow. For starters, you can set it to automatically copy cards as soon as you plug them in (Shotput has to be launched for this to work). The cards will copy to any destination(s) you've already set up, which is particularly handy if you're working in the field, with lots to worry about. Just fire and forget.


Shotput Pro Preferences
Shotput Pro Preferences


Shotput can also rename the card copies as it writes them to a destination. For instance, you can set Shotput to copy a bunch of cards called NONAME, but give the copied folders new names based on the time or date. Or you can type in a custom name for the cards, and Shotput will sequentially number them (BAJA01, BAJA02, BAJA03, etc). You can also give all copied card names a custom prefix and suffix. Finally, Shotput can automate what happens to the physical cards after it's copied them, either renaming the cards themselves with a custom name (ACAMERA, for instance) or ejecting them, or even formatting them. Personally, I've never let Shotput automatically format my cards after copying them, but that's more out of superstition than anything else.

Upgrading from Version 2 to 3?

If you're thinking of spending $20 to upgrade from version 2 to version 3, here's what you'll get:
  • You no longer have to select the card type (P2, SxS, Red, etc.) you're copying from a pop-up menu. Shotput automatically recognizes each card type without any help.
  • Shotput now saves log files automatically to either a common folder you set up, or directly in each card copy's folder. This definitely speeds up your workflow, since Shotput no longer stops to ask if you want to save each card's log file.
  • Shotput can now save media cards using the custom name you've already given them. I work with five P2 cards, and have named them ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, and FIVE. In the past, Shotput could not carry over these custom, unique names. Now it can, which spares me from having to manually rename the copies using my preferred scheme.
  • You get a new user interface in version 3, which doesn't look quite as busy as version 2's. Besides cosmetics, there are two appreciable differences between this new interface and the old one. On the bright side, Shotput no longer foolishly assumes that you want to copy every mounted volume on your computer -- media cards, external hard drives, CDs, iDisk folders , etc. -- thereby forcing you to uncheck each volume you didn't want to copy. Personally, it was very frustrating to launch the old Shotput, and first uncheck 4-5 non-card volumes before getting started. Now, with version 3, I simply drag the volumes I want into a Queue box, which saves a few seconds and prevents me from copying an unwanted volume because I forgot to uncheck it.
  • The second appreciable change in Shotput's interface is that you can't see your destination volumes in the main interface window, as you could before. Instead, you have to click a Settings button in the main window, which opens a sidebar where you can see previous destinations, or choose new ones. This is a clumsy approach, since it's one more button to press every time you launch the program, and because it puts an essential part of Shotput's functionality behind a hidden sidebar.
  • Finally, version 3 is supposed to offer faster copy performance, thanks to Shotput's new multi-threading code. Shotput 2 actually had a multi-thread mode as well, but on my system (8 core Mac Pro, two-drive raid and Panasonic's fast PCD-35 card reader), I actually found single-threaded performance to be much faster. Now, Shotput 3 expands multi-threading by letting you drag a slider to use between one and ten threads to copy your cards....the idea being that advanced Macs with multiple cores could use multiple threads to boost speed. Unfortunately, I still found that using one thread is fastest on my machine, which copied a 64GB E series card in 11:53 but needed 15:05 when using two threads. I did improve performance when copying two 64GB P2 cards simultaneously using two threads, but it still took a minute or so longer than copying both cards using a single thread.
  • And for the record, I actually found Shotput Pro 3 to be a tiny bit slower than Shotput 2.17 (the version I was using last). The older Shotput needed 11:40 to copy my 64GB card, whereas version 3 took 11:53.
The Verdict

Shotput Pro is a great tool for offloading your media cards to hard drives. Its two verification modes help keep your copies secure, and its log feature let you troubleshoot any problems that might crop up. Plus, Shotput's long list of automated copying, naming, ejecting and formatting features let you customize your workflow with minimal effort. For anybody that frequently copies media cards, Shotput's $99 price is well worth it.

About Helmut Kobler

Helmut Kobler is a Los Angeles-based documentary cameraman specializing in P2. He's also written three editions of Final Cut Pro for Dummies. For more information, go to www.varicaminla.com

Comments

Re: ShotPut Pro V3 by Imagine Products, Inc.
by Dan Sherman
I used to use the drag and drop method exclusively when I had two 16 GB P2 cards.
Flawless workflow.
Then I purchased a couple of 64GB cards and problems began to arise. Chief among them, files that would copy out of chronological order. I tried to use CMS that Panasonic provides at no charge, but couldn't figure it out.
So I gave ShotPut Pro a try. As I write this I have a 64GB card that has been copying for more than 16 hours.
Something is not right here.
Any suggestions?

Dan Sherman
Re: ShotPut Pro V3 by Imagine Products, Inc.
by Helmut Kobler
Hi Temesgen, glad you liked the article!

And yes, the PCD35 is considerably faster than the PCD20 -- about 5 times faster in a few head-to-head tests I did last year. I posted some numbers in this thread back in July, which help put things in perspective: http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/193/876831

Those tests were done with Shotput's faster verification, by the way.

One more thing regarding the PCD20: even though it has USB2 and FireWire 800 connectors, they both deliver about the same performance...ie, FireWire 800 *should* be faster than USB2, but it's not. Whatever interface you use, make sure it's not the same interface as you're using for an external hard drive. Example: You don't want to use the PCD20's USB2 interface to connect to your Mac, and copy the P2 files to a USB2 hard drive that's also attached. Things will slow down even more than usual, because all data is going through the same narrow bandwidth connector. Instead, use the PCD20 on an interface that's different than your attached hard drive.

I would definitely recommend the PCD35, if you have a desktop computer to support it. It makes card offloads a pleasure...




Re: ShotPut Pro V3 by Imagine Products, Inc.
by Temesgen Asmerom
After several tests I realized that about the USB 2 vs FW 800 speeds, seems strange. I am cautious about using the same interface, but it still takes over 1 Gb/min to copy and verify.
Unfortunately for our purposes a Macbook Pro is most commonly used, so the PCD35 is not an option. Would you recommend the single slot PCD2? Having read your review, I'm not sure that it will be a whole lot faster than my current setup.
Re: ShotPut Pro V3 by Imagine Products, Inc.
by Jeff Regan
My tests with a MacBook Pro, PCD20 and PCD2 using a 32Gb P2 E series card yield about a 25 minute transfer for both readers using Shotput Pro 2.17 in faster data verification mode. I use a Sonnet Express Card to dual FW800 adapter, although this won't work with bus powered FW800 drives. I was happy that the PCD2 was not any slower than the PCD20, but would certainly like faster transfer times--I long for the days when I wasn't the last one leaving the set!

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com
Re: ShotPut Pro V3 by Imagine Products, Inc.
by Temesgen Asmerom
Thanks for the article Helmut and for introducing me to version 3. I've been trying to get a grasp on what typical verify times should be using ShotPut and your numbers are much different (shorter) than what I've experienced.
I'm using ShotPut v2.1.7 and a Panasonic PCD20 reader. I reached out to someone at Imagine and the Multi vs Single threading was pointed out, but didn't make a big difference. I've tried both FW800 and USB2.0 outputs from the reader, and all of these options always end up taking at least an hour (even for file size comparison).

Any idea why it would be so different/slow, Is the PCD35 that much faster?
Sorry to post here on your article, but after speaking to Imagine I just assumed the performance I was getting was normal, until I read this article and instantly wanted several lost hours of my life back.


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